[extropy-chat] Angel Snot was Near Death Experiences: a scientific approach
Tom's name Here
the_spoon_maker at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 25 13:32:18 UTC 2004
>Yes, I would define death as brain death the loss of electrical activity in
>the brain - when the electroencephalogram or EEG (not the EKG) flatlines.
A flatline of all electrical activity? The pons could be still sending out
instructions while all brain activity relevant to mind, i.e. stuff in the
cerebral cortex, is gone.
>Another malfunction of this mechanism results in sleep paralysis where
>people wake up and can sense their surroundings, even open their eyes and
>see but cannot move.
Yes, a friend of mine suffered this very ailment and asked me about it not
but five days ago. I find it curious the eyes are still permitted to move
while the rest of the body is not. Of course the eyes are also the only
thing to move during REM sleep. Why? Because nothing we could possibly do
with our ocular muscles could hurt us? No amount of toe-wiggling could hurt
us either, but we cannot move our toes. . .
>Actually, I think it would useful to confine our analysis to the possible
>existence of a soul.
I dont know of any evidence suggesting souls exist. All forms, functions
and components of a mind have been pretty well diagnosed as being of
biological or psychological origin. I see no reason for a soul to exist, or
for us to suspect it of existing. As it happens I got into a separate
discussion this night, and to sum up a three-hour conversation; the
possibility of existence is not a means to exist.
>There is no reason to assume that the soul (if it exists at all) does not
>roam the very same universe we do when alive.
Could what we call mind be a manifestation in this universe of a soul?
Really, what is the difference between a mind and a soul, if we are
>>I highly doubt different moralities and ethics produce different weights.
>* Actually I do too. I think it would be more likely that the amount of
>life experience would have more to do with it- more memories = more soul.
Well memories and experiences are stored for the mind as new paths between
neurons, correct? So we could hypothesize: more life experiences= more
interneurons= more mass lost. So the people the lost the most weight would
have more interneurons than the others; something easily determined.
>*Unless the soul were composed of <
> neutrinos, WIMPs,
My problem with weakly interacting particles forming the soul is: if the
particles interact so weakly with normal matter, wouldnt they interact even
more weakly with themselves? Would they be stable enough to hold a pattern?
>gamma rays or other exotic forms of matter/energy
At the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, this was Arthur C. Clarkes take on it.
Patterns of energy zinging around space. This would mean there would be
detectable signals zipping around in space. Every animal that has had a
brain and died would have a soul in space, so detecting one shouldnt be
hard (in orbit), unless the signals are going away from earth.
However I do understand what you mean about a pattern existing without a
substrate. Russell Evermores idea about the Abba CD is perplexing, but then
I realize that the pattern always exists. If the all the CDs are destroyed,
it will still exist in memory. If all the sheet music is burned and all
memory of it wiped, the pattern no longer exists in any form. The only way
the pattern exists is the same way any other song ever written by anyone
else, or any song yet to be written. That specific collection of beats,
vocals and instrumental notes exists, but so does that same collection of
beats, vocals and instrumental notes, with only one different note, or five
different notes, or a hundred. What I mean is it exists as a combination,
but any combination is just as existent as the Abba song is. It exists as a
Simply because we have a pattern of brain activity that can be recorded at
the time we die doesnt mean it will be carried off, or leave of its own
>*I would bet against it too but I think the experiment should be done
I take back what I said earlier. I think that if someone wonders and is not
swayed by others testimony, they deserve to do whatever is necessary
(within reason) to satisfy that lack of knowledge. However I agree with the
others, in this case, the burden of proof, and responsibility for the
experiment, would fall not on the scientific community but on the proponents
of the idea of a soul.
>Besides, it doesn't seem like it would be terribly expensive. It could be
>done in some state with a lethal injection or gas chamber death penalty for
Also detectors could be set up to measure increases in parts of the
electromagnetic spectrum. Kind like the tools those ghost hunters use on
those TLC type programs. (Im not saying theyre true, but the tools might
serve our purposes) Even if we couldnt put up detectors for WIMPs or
neutrinos, simply objectively eliminating other possibilities would be worth
>Maybe someone could get a grant from a Christian university or even a
>church to perform the experiment.
I kind of doubt it. While individual members within the church might want to
see it happen, the church would not. Why would they take the chance, if it
could go against them? I do believe you could find support for the
experiment among the general populace, though. The hard part, I think, would
be finding someone willing to die under the conditions proposed.
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